The Ag Irrigation Conservation Paradox

Reining in the Rio Grande

Reining in the Rio Grande

Ever surprising.

Although increased irrigation efficiency is one of the most widely promoted solutions to increased water demand, its actual effects on the water balance are complex and even paradoxical. The cost to farmers of delivered irrigation water is minimal, meaning that there is little benefit from installing expensive water-conservation technology in terms of reducing costs. The only real incentive to farmers for increasing efficiency is to use what water is saved to irrigate additional land and thus increase income.

From the newly published Reining in the Rio Grande: People, Land, and Water, by Fred Phillips, Em Hall and Mary Black, which I highly recommend.


  1. Brazil’s Natl Water Agency releleased last week a report confirming that agriculture irrigation is responsible for about 25% of all water use down here. The same problem as up there…

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